Veteran actress and filmmaker, Genevieve Nnaji, has called out film distributors for allegedly monopolising the market.
Nnaji’s directorial debut, Lion Heart, was reportedly delayed from showing in the cinemas because of “power tussle” and “arm twisting” by cinema distributors.
Reacting to the issue, a statement released by Ugoma Adegoke, a representative of Nnaji’s team, quoted her calling out major film distributors for frustrating efforts of upcoming filmmakers.
The statement further accused them of inflating box office figures, having showtime bias for films they invest in and not prioritising the customers.
Nnaji said: “It is sad to discover that the very people who pose as Nollywood supporters and promoters of their content are the very same people frustrating the efforts of filmmakers.
“They are currently invested in a couple of movies showing in the cinemas and want to protect their assets at all cost.
“Monopolising the market this season is their strategy to recouping their investment. It’s like 2004 all over again.
“When we were all banned from the industry. Except this is not 2004. This is 2018. The sheer audacity.
“It is clear to me that the interest of the consumers is not of utmost priority as advertised.
“These cinema chains are only here to make money off of struggling artists while protecting their investments in the films they are affiliated with.
“The major reason cinema chains globally do not produce their own movies is to avoid bias.
“Competing with the very people you are supposedly a distributor for is downright ridiculous and shameful, to say the least.
“It is not enough that they buy out their own tickets and manipulate the numbers and time slots to keep up this false imagery of making box-office hits.
“They prevent filmmakers from releasing their products to manipulate foot traffic as well. Thereby forcing consumers to watch only that which is available to them. Not what they actually want to see.
“It sickens me to think that if this could be done to me (twice if I may add), then I can only imagine what many struggling independent filmmakers must be passing through in the hands of these industry vultures.
“I call them vultures because they are a bunch of opportunists, and they prey on the weak. If the only success stories you can boast of as a distributor are movies you invested in, then how are you a supporter for the industry at large?
“To be honest, as an investor in this project, I have no complaints. I am happy with the progress I have made and remain grateful for how far I have come.
“But as an artist, having you watch my first-time film as a director meant a lot to me. Plus, I am aware of the challenges of streaming in this region, so bringing this home to you was important.
“Unfortunately, the cinemas have refused to show Lion heart. Despite all my efforts, they remain insistent. I don’t own a cinema chain of my own so my hands are tied.
“Lion heart will be waiting for you starting January 4th on Netflix. I hope you are as proud of it as I am.
“As for the ‘powers that be’, this is not over. On the contrary, it is just the beginning. You are going to respect what I stand for which is art.
“You are going to respect where I came from which is Nollywood. You are going to learn to respect the talent. Period.”
Amidst the controversies, the movie was premiered at a private screening in Lagos on Thursday, with Nnaji’s family and some celebrity guests in attendance.